The third-largest Japanese automaker has been the No. 1 customer for the auto safety parts supplier Takata Corp, but as the airbag auto safety crisis deepens globally, their more than 50-year relationship could strain.
Honda – which has recalled around half of the vehicles involved in the Takata airbag inflator debacle, also has the unfortunate claim over all five reported deaths. And, just as Takata acknowledged it was struggling to increase production of the replacement kits, the automaker also tapped Autoliv to provide the necessary fix for its US models. Besides tapping Stockholm-based Autoliv Inc., Honda also currently negotiates with Japan’s Daicel Corp. on getting even more components – as the carmaker seems ready to reclaim some of its dented reputation. And, just hours after Takata disregarded a deadline set by the US auto safety regulator NHTSA to order a nationwide recall, Honda proceeded to voluntarily embark on the asked expansion that targets driver-side airbags.
While not long ago executives from both Honda and Toyota expressed their deep commitment to their long-time partner Takata Corp, the latest moves from Honda show the ties might get tested in the near future. That’s bad news for Takata, with analysts and brokerages predicting the company might need financial support from the carmakers – transferring onto themselves at least a part of the costs of recalling millions of vehicles worldwide.